Foods with high vitamin K content
Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that the body needs for blood clotting, helping wounds to heal.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two forms — K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1, the most common form, is mainly found in plant foods, especially dark leafy greens. K2, on the other hand, is only found in animal foods and fermented plant foods, such as natto.
Vitamin K is found throughout the body including the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, and bone. It is broken down very quickly and excreted in urine or stool. Because of this, it rarely reaches toxic levels in the body even with high intakes, as may sometimes occur with other fat-soluble vitamins.
A vitamin K deficiency is serious and can lead to a range of health issues. Even getting less than the recommended dosage over a prolonged period may be bad for a person’s overall health, and could lead to problems such as:
- low bone mineral density
- heart disease
- tooth decay
- easy bleeding or difficulty clotting blood
- certain types of cancer
- vascular calcification
- cognitive impairment
The recommended intake of vitamin K is at least 90 micrograms (mcg) a day for women and at least 120 mcg a day for men. Most people can easily achieve these levels by adding the foods below to a balanced, healthful diet.
Causes of Vitamin K Deficiency
- Lack of vitamin K in the diet
- A very low fat diet because vitamin K is best absorbed when eaten with some fat
- Disorders that impair fat absorption and that thus reduce the absorption of vitamin K (such as blockage of the bile ducts or cystic fibrosis)
- Certain drugs, including antiseizure drugs, and some antibiotics
- Consumption of large amounts of mineral oil, which may reduce the absorption of vitamin K
Newborns are prone to vitamin K deficiency because of the following:
- Only small amounts of vitamin K pass from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy.
- During the first few days after birth, the newborn’s intestine has not yet acquired bacteria to produce vitamin K.
Foods that contain vitamin K
Kale: Kale is a dark leafy green that has been labeled as a superfood since it is among the most nutritious foods per calorie. It is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, making it a popular source of vitamins and minerals for various types of diets.
Cooking kale will reduce the volume and allow you to eat more per serving, though you can also consume raw kale for the vitamin K content.
One cup of cooked kale provides 544 mcg of vitamin K.
Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are hearty, cruciferous vegetables that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamin K. They may get a bad reputation among children, but people are often surprised by the appetizing flavor.
An easy way to incorporate brussels sprouts into your diet is to slice them thin for salads or roast them for a savory side dish.
One cup of cooked brussels sprouts contains 285 mcg of vitamin K.
Broccoli: Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that is associated with many health benefits. Since it is low in calories, it is a popular source of nutrients for those following a low-calorie diet geared toward healthy weight loss. Broccoli is also associated with diabetes management, better heart health, and reduced risk of cancer.
One cup of cooked broccoli contains 164 mcg of vitamin K.
Asparagus: Asparagus spears are a popular vegetable, especially for grilling at summer barbecues. They not only taste delicious, they are also full of nutrients like folate, fiber, and vitamin K. Asparagus also contains a moderate amount of protein, which is convenient for vegans and vegetarians.
One cup of cooked asparagus contains 80 mcg of vitamin K.
Cabbage: Cabbage is an underrated vegetable. It is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. It is also low on the glycemic index and suitable for a low-FODMAP diet.
If you needed another reason to cook up some cabbage soup, you might want to stock up on cabbage for the nutrient density. For those looking to add foods rich in vitamin K to your diet, a serving of cabbage may cover your daily needs.
One cup of cooked cabbage contains 118 mcg of vitamin K.
Green Snap Beans: Green beans are affordable, easy to find, and full of nutrients. You can buy them fresh, frozen, or canned at most grocery stores.
While green bean recipes are most popular during the holiday months, you can enjoy green snap beans at any point of the year.
One cup of cooked green snap beans contains 60 mcg of vitamin K.
Kiwi: Though most of the foods that are highest in vitamin K are dark leafy greens and green vegetables, fruits are also a source of vitamin K. Kiwi is one of the fruits with the most potent amount of vitamin K.
Like other fruits, kiwi is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It contains ample vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, folate, and more. Kiwis are also associated with reduced inflammation.
One cup of raw kiwi fruit contains 72.5 mcg of vitamin K.
- Mustard greens (cooked): 1/2 cup contains 415 mc
- Swiss chard (raw): 1 leaf contains 398 mcg
- Natto: 1 ounce contains 313 mcg
- Spinach (raw): 1 cup contains 145 mcg
- Beef liver: 1 slice contains 72 mcg
- Pork chops: 3 ounces contains 59 mcg
- Chicken: 3 ounces contains 51 mcg
- Goose liver paste: 1 tablespoon contains 48 mcg
- Prunes: 5 pieces contains 28 mcg
How do you meet your vitamin K requirements?
The richest sources of vitamin K1 are dark, leafy green vegetables. For example, just 1/2 cup (65 grams) of cooked kale provides 443% of the DV.
To get the most out of this vitamin in kale and other plant foods, consider eating them with butter or oil. That’s because vitamin K is fat-soluble and may be better absorbed when combined with fat.
Vitamin K2 is only found in animal foods and certain fermented dishes. Small amounts are also produced by your gut bacteri.
Evidence suggests that the metabolism and functions of vitamin K1 andK2 are slightly different, though this isn’t fully understood. While dietaryguidelines don’t currently distinguish between the two, it’s probably agood idea to include both types in your diet.